Adobe Dreamweaver, now available in the CS5.5 version, has become the most valuable and commonly-used tool for many web designers all over the world. Familiarity with it is an essential component of any designer's resumé, and Adobe offers a free trial version for aspiring users. There are also a few no-cost alternatives that are very similar to the well-known Dreamweaver program.
Reasons to Download a Free Copy of Dreamweaver
If knowing that it's an industry standard isn't enough, here are more reasons why Dreamweaver is a worthwhile download.
Dreamweaver's interface has many features that make it unique among web design programs. The following are some of the interface's most notable features:
- Dual-view: Users can view both the code of the HTML page and, at the same time, a "what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) display that shows a version of what the code will render in a web browser.
- Property inspector: This tiny floating window displays aspects and parameters of whatever item the cursor is resting on. For example, if the cursor has selected an image, the property inspector will let the designer change the image size, the file it links to, additional links, the alt tag, and many other properties. Click on a block of text, and the designer controls font size, paragraph type, color, links…all right in one place.
- Sidebar tools: The sidebar also contains several useful tools, possibly the most valuable being the "files" view. This originally was an integrated File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client, which enabled web pages to be uploaded to the server hosting the site at a keystroke, but it has now become more robust for uploading files.
Compatibility with Current Web Tech
Dreamweaver has also tried to keep up with both current web trends and technologies and offers ways to implement images and video into web pages, including a one click feature to create an entire web photo album from a directory of images and integration with the Photoshop and Illustrator design tools. It also has tools for working with Cascading Style Sheets, HTML5, and the Spry framework that goes along with Ajax for creating web applications.
How to Get Dreamweaver's Trial Version
Downloading a free copy of Dreamweaver is not too difficult, but the copy is a trial lasting only 30 days. After visiting Dreamweaver's download page on the Adobe website, select the version appropriate for your operating system and click "Download Now" to download the Adobe Download Assistant software. After the Adobe Download Assistant opens, sign in with or sign up for a free Adobe account to download the trial setup file. The 30-day trial period begins from the moment of launching the product on your computer. To continue using it after 30 days, you'll need to purchase the full version.
Five Free Dreamweaver Alternatives
If you've used up your Dreamweaver trial period and want to continue working with the program, you will need to purchase it to keep using it. If you don't have the money or are in search of an affordable alternative, consider trying one of the following five programs. Each one offers much of Dreamweaver's functionality and are completely free.
- Amaya: Although it doesn't have built-in tools for working with HTML5 and Spry, this open source web editor for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X has graphical tools for creating websites and also lets users work with CSS and HTML in a textual code editor.
- NVU: Compatible with Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, this suitable Dreamweaver alternative is very easy to use and includes intuitive buttons for adding images, links, and text to your web pages. The program can also handle templates and forms and can be used with web programming languages for more advanced users.
- Evrsoft First Page 2006: This fully featured web design program is useful for beginners and experts alike and has an interface very similar to Dreamweaver's dual-view. Other features include a code checking tool, compatibility with forms, scripts, and popular web programming languages, a photo album generator, and an automatic completion feature for manual coding.
- Quanta Plus: Available for Linux users, Quanta Plus provides various tools for working with website projects, is compatible with HTML, CSS, XML, and scripting languages, offers contextual help, and supports many extensions. Beginners can even open website templates in the program and make edits by hand or using the graphical tools.
Dreamweaver vs. the Free Alternatives
Although only being able to get a free trial of Dreamweaver can be disappointing, there are still a few no-cost options available if you can't afford the program or decide it is not right for you. The free alternatives can all do many of the program's essential features and support WYSIWYG designing and manual code editing. Basic users will benefit from easy to use graphical tools, and even advanced designers who need to use scripts or install extensions can design complex websites using one of the free alternatives.